The NFL has embraced legalized gambling, and the money that comes from it. And there's plenty of money to be made.
But it's not just the cash that comes from sportsbook sponsorships; those who own NFL teams also may have equity interests in sportsbooks.
"There is no restriction on owning equity interests in casinos that have no sports betting," the league told PFT on Wednesday. "An owner would be able to hold up to 5 percent in entities that generate revenue from sports betting operations, provided the individual has no involvement in management of the company (such as an officer or director or in a management role)."
In other words, any (and every) owner can own up to five percent of any company that generates money from sports betting. While that doesn't sound like much, the bigger the company, the bigger the number.
For example, DraftKings currently has a value of $19.95 billion. Five percent currently is worth $997.5 million.
The league declined to provide a list of the owners who hold equity interest in sportsbook companies.
The lack of transparency is jarring. At a time when everyone connected to the league has strict limits on when and how and where they can gamble, owners of NFL teams can own up to five percent of "the house." But they won't tell us which owners own what amount of which sportsbook.
As of 2018, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones owned a small piece (less than five percent) of DraftKings.
At a time when the NFL is supposedly concerned about the impact of "normal incidents of the game" on potential "speculation, distrust, and allegations of point-shaving or game fixing," permitting owners to have billion-dollar stakes in sportsbook companies becomes a huge potential problem.
If, for example, betting is lopsided on the Super Bowl, with DraftKings needing one of the teams to win and/or cover, any bad calls or other questionable moments leading to the other team winning and/or covering might look sketchy, to say the least. It definitely won't look sketchy if they manage to keep the equity interests held by NFL owners a secret.
Thus, at a time when the NFL is focused on fending off basic questions about gambling by resorting to talking points and word salads about protecting the integrity of the game, we're all missing the much bigger point: The people who own NFL teams are permitted to own up to five percent of a company that operates a sportsbook.
The house always wins, and the owners who own up to five percent of any given sportsbook company will keep winning as the house keeps winning and the company keeps growing and the value of the five-percent interests keeps increasing.